Kweku Ackom-Mensah catches up with Smoove & Turrell..
Smoove and Turrell have had a rampant gig schedule over the past 2 years, what’s been your favorite crowd so far?
Yeah its been incredible so far, supporting acts like Chic and Bobby Womack was a real honor but I think playing live in Liverpool for the 6Music festival was pretty epic to say the least! Check the video!
I can see your music appealing to quite a wide audience. How does the festival crowd reaction compare to the dedicated fan base at your own gigs?
Festivals are weird and wonderful at the same time as you can start a live set with a pretty much empty tent and by the end its totally packed out. We love the fact our music seems to appeal to all ages young and old.
Your most recent album, Broken Toys has gotten some serious praise in the industry . Who came up with the album name and what was the inspiration?
The name came from a song that John wrote initially Called Broken Toys which is actually about soldiers returning from war. We really liked the abstract element of the words and thought it worked well as a self titled album.
When you are working on new material do you feel like you are writing songs with a specific audience in mind?
We know we have a loyal fan base and we hope they will respect most of the music that we create but we don’t really set out with any agendas or specific styles in mind when we write. Its more about how we feel at the time for example we dipped our toes in more Disco elements on the last album as it was just something we have always included in our DJ shows.
Tell us about how the two of you work together, how do ideas flow between you?
I usually start the tracks by using loops sourced from old records as I’m a big vinyl collector. I would then send john a rough edit of the loops with programmed drums etc to inspire him for writing lyrics (John has the great ability to pen lyrics very fast)! we then usually get the lads into the studio from the live band to chip in and either replay loops or come up with new original parts. I would then spend the best part of 2 years structuring, tweaking, mixing, programming and sequencing the Album together.
Your style of soul in the earlier albums has always been pretty fast paced and energetic, and particularly in Play To Win and Lay It On Me from the Broken Toys album, that’s continued. Have you ever toyed with any cross over tracks into more commercial dance music?
I think the closest we got to making Crossover / Electronic music is on the new single Will You Be Mine where we let our keyboard player Mike Porter, loose in the studio with his vast collection of vintage analogue synths.
Are there any other artists who you would like or have planned to collaborate with?
We recently met a singer called Marta Ren from Portugal when we played at a festival in the Azores. she has an incredible voice that reminded us of both Marva Whitney and Lynne Collins mixed together. We have been in contact with her since and really hope to do a collaborate one day.
Tell us about the new single. What can we expect?
We decided to put our infamous keyboard player Mike Porter in the spotlight for our new single Will You Be Mine, so much so that he’s the star in our new music video ! The single also features remixes by Opolopo, Ashley Beedle and Mike Porter himself.
You guys seem to be pretty much constantly on tour. How did that affect the creative process when you were working on new material?
We are always busy its what keeps the fire burning, the minute you take your foot off the gas the momentum drags down. Being on the road is allot of fun but its hard work at the same time.
We have to keep everything balanced while maintaining some quality time to spend with our families and loved ones. Studio Time must be planned weeks ahead due to the hectic tour schedule we have at the moment.
What music do you listen to when you’re on the road?
Recently we have been listening to a guy called Bill Laurence who has an epic experimental jazz album called Flint which is stunning! Another artist I’v just recently discovered are Badbadnotgood, they replay classic Hip Hop songs in a live jazz style!
What’s coming up in 2015 for Smoove and Turrell?
Probably another year of being on the road for months on end as 2014 has been incredible so far. we hope to play many more cities and Festivals around the world. we have also just started recording our forth album so that will keep us busy for sure!
3 quick questions: If you could re-live any 15 minutes in your life, which would they be?
The birth of my son Floyd who is age 3 now.
playing The Big Chill in 2009.
Which artist do we need to check out that we haven’t heard of yet?
Rob Heron & The Teapad Orchestra. Daytoner, Renegades Of Jazz, Suonho, Mr Bird, The Allergies, DJ Andy Taylor.
When was the last time you pissed someone off?
When I pulled out of the sale of a house I was buying at the last second!
FORTHCOMING UK & EUROPEAN TOUR DATES:
19TH OCTOBER – SUGARFACTORY – AMSTERDAM
21ST OCTOBER – EAST VILLAGE ARTS CLUB LOFT – LIVERPOOL
22ND OCTOBER – THE VOODOO ROOMS – EDINBURGH
24TH OCTOBER – MOONDOO – HAMBURG (DJ/PA)
25TH OCTOBER – LUX – HANNOVER
28TH OCTOBER – ANCIENNE BELGIQUE – BRUSSELS
29TH OCTOBER – 229 THE VENUE – LONDON